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A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 17 – The rise and rise of the gig economy

The gig economy – made up of contractors, consultants, and freelancers – has emerged rapidly over recent years. Driven by the move away from traditional employment models – by both employers and employees – and the rise of digital technologies that create marketplaces for talent to be matched with job opportunities.

The side hustle has quickly become the favourite barbeque conversation as people look for opportunities to learn new skills and try new opportunities.

In this episode of Smoke Signal, I speak to Luke Achterstraat, CEO of Commtract – Australia and New Zealand’s first marketplace for professional communicators.

Listen here, watch on YouTube or download on iTunes

The Grattan Institute estimates over 80,000 Australians earn some type of income from a peer to peer platform – be that Uber, AirTasker  or Commtract – in any given month. By 2020 almost 40 per cent of the ASX 200 workplace will be non permanent, in some form consultants or freelancers.

When founded just over two years ago, Commtract hit on what Luke describes as two mega trends: from an organisational perspective there was an increasing restriction on headcount, movement to an agile workforce and the increased demand for talent immediately. Effectively companies needing to do more with less.

The accompanying employee mega trend saw the rise of people seeking autonomy and greater variety in the work they do – especially among experienced professionals who started looking for a “portfolio career”.

Luke talks to an on-demand economy that will only get bigger, with more platforms that become hyper specialized (check out snappr for photographers as a case in point) and a greater focus of community around these platforms.

His advice – whether starting out as a grad or an experienced professional – don’t fear the way the market is moving as it is by no means a new phenomenon. The key is to embrace the opportunity it presents.

In the news this episode  I look at the 2019 Digital News Report – a global study into the issues facing news media that was just released by the Oxford University-aligned Reuters Institute.

The report is based on a survey of over 75,000 people in 38 countries, including 2000 in Australia. Some interesting trends that emerge, include:

  • The level of trust in news continues to fall in all countries with less than half of Australians (44%) trusting news reporting (placing Australia 18/38 countries surveyed).
  • The smartphone is the most popular device in Australia to access news, with 58% of Australians reading news on their smartphone in the past week.
  • Voice-activated smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home continue to grow rapidly – usage in Australia doubled over the past year from 4% to 8% of respondents.
  • Almost a third of Australians actively avoid news . The report posits that this  may be because the world has become a more depressing place, or because the media tends to be relentlessly negative – or most likely a mix of both.
  • Despite a tumultuous 12 months being in the spotlight the ABC remains the most trusted brand with some 40% of Australians getting their news from ABC TV or Radio at least once a week and 22% using ABC online weekly.
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